IFPMA Covid-19 Günlük Bülteni – 8 Nisan

08.04.2020

Top news:

  • The WHO released the provisional agenda for the 73rd annual World Health Assembly, notably there were no references to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Geneva Global Health Hub seeks clarification on “normal” agenda. In the coming days, WHO will be releasing an updated strategy, and a revised Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, with an estimate of the financial needs for the next phase of the response. WHO denies being China-centric after Trump’s criticism.
  • UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force was launched, to dramatically scale up the supply of life-saving tools, and match supply with needs.
  • Mexico sends draft resolution to the UN calling on them to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines, tests and medical equipment to face COVID-19.
  • WTO believes Global trade could fall by up to a third in 2020
  • The African Union and the Africa CDC have launched a public-private partnership with the AfroChampions Initiative, known as the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund
  • Chinese companies have stepped up research and development collaborations with entities in Europe raising security concerns
  • The biotech company Novavax announced that it has identified an “ideal” coronavirus vaccine candidate — and is set to launch the first clinical human trial in mid-May.

IP, ACCESS & PRICING

  • STAT News: Q&A: Former bio-pharma exec wants to repurpose generic drugs to fight COVID-19. Paul Fehlner, former global head of intellectual property at Novartis, proposes starting a public benefit entity to repurpose generic drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, which are already in the market at affordable prices. He explains that the plan is to collect and submit promising research data supporting the efficacy of off-patent compounds to treat COVID-19 to regulators and permit existing generic manufacturers to add COVID-19 use to their labels under terms that would require affordable pricing.
  • Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN: Mexico Asks UN to Guarantee Access to the Medicines, Vaccines, Tests and Supplies Required to Combat COVID-19. The Mexican delegation led  by Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente sent the draft resolution to the other 192 UN Member States with a concept note stating that, at last week’s virtual G20 meeting, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had raised the possibility of the UN taking an active role in guaranteeing access to medicines and medical equipment through effective and united international cooperation.
  • BEUC: COVID-19 is a wake-up call to end sky-high medicine prices. The European Consumer Organisation is urging the EU and Member States to urgently revisit the way they finance health research, both for COVID-19 medicines and all other illnesses.  Monique Goyens, the DG of BEUC writes that this pandemic is a ‘wake-up call’ as COVID-19 exposes the longstanding situation of consumers paying too much for their medicines, first through tax-funded research, then through sky-high prices at the pharmacy.

MANUFACTURING & SUPPLY OF MEDICINES

  • Financial Times (Paywall): Medical groups warn of serious shortages of hydroxychloroquine. European medical advocacy groups have warned that Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria treatment also used by sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has become harder to find during the escalating international campaign to deploy it against coronavirus. Experts lamented that the shortage is a result of the rush to promote Hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 remedy, despite the lack of robust evidence that it works.

HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS

GLOBAL TRADE & ECONOMIC IMPACT

GLOBAL RESPONSE

  • New York Post: WHO denies being China centric after Trump’s coronavirus criticism. After President Trump accused the WHO of pro-China bias and said he was placing a “very powerful hold” on its funding. Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO EURO regional director, said “We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding”. Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to WHO DG Dr Tedros, also defended the agency’s relationship with China, saying its work with Beijing was important to understand the outbreak.
  • Dods EU: EU pledges €15 billion to help its partners worldwide combat the coronavirus. European Commission President Von der Leyen announced that the EU has secured more than €15 billion to help partners worldwide combat the coronavirus. The EU Commission also adopted new rules allowing cooperation between competitors to face the coronavirus outbreak and blessed a cooperation project between pharmaceutical producers.
  • The Guardian: EU promises €20bn Covid-19 aid to Africa, Asia and Pacific. The European Union has reshuffled its aid budget and promised €20bn to help countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific tackle coronavirus, as well as near neighbours in eastern Europe.
  • The Guardian: In a joint letter to the IMF board on Wednesday, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and Global Witness called on the fund to “establish basic measures to ensure that the money received by countries is used in a transparent and accountable manner to reduce the risks of misuse and corruption.”
  • UHC2030: All hands on deck: mobilizing the private sector for the COVID-19 response. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a global surge in demand for health services. In response, the WHO calls on national governments everywhere to adopt a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in responding to the pandemic. The response should be coordinated with actors in the private sector and civil society. To do so, governments must have a policy framework for private health sector engagement. The WHO has already released an action plan for Ministries of Health to begin to engage private sector capacity. 

COVID-19: FOCUS ON AFRICA

  • WHO AFRO: COVID-19 cases top 10,000 in Africa. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has risen to more than 10 000 and caused more than 500 deaths. WHO is working with governments across Africa to scale up their capacities in critical response areas.
  • Africa News: African Union and African Private sector launch COVID-19 response fund. Ahead of an expected surge in cases of COVID-19 in Africa, the African Union and the Africa CDC have launched a public-private partnership with the AfroChampions Initiative, known as the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund. The partnership aims to raise an initial US$ 150 million for immediate needs to prevent transmission and up to US$ 400 million to support sustainable medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • All Africa: Positive Moves After Finance Ministers Call for Debt Relief During COVID-19 Crisis. In response to the appeal Africa’s ministers of finance made to partners, Mr Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of Economy and Finance, has proposed a debt moratorium and IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) up to US$500 billion for African countries. In the same line, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) asked that developing countries receive the aid of US$2.5 trillion to overcome the health and economic shock caused by COVID-19, and, in particular, US$236 billion of the African debt be deferred or cancelled.

VACCINE/ TREATMENT DEVELOPMENT

IFPMA members

  • LiveMint: Inside the race to find a coronavirus cure. Including drugs approved for other diseases, there are 254 clinical trials testing treatments or vaccines for the virus, many spearheaded by universities and government research agencies, with hundreds more trials planned. Researchers have squeezed timelines that usually total months into weeks or even days. “We have never gone so fast with so many resources in such a short time frame,” said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Business Insider: Why experts are sceptical of studies that seemed to show promising results from using a decades-old malaria drug to treat the coronavirus. Early results from studies in France and China show promising signs of malaria drug working against the coronavirus, but experts and analysts warn against making conclusions from these limited trials. Experts warn these studies are limited by being low quality, often enrolling tiny groups of patients or lacking a control group to compare the results against.

Others

  • New York Times: Novavax to start human trials for novel coronavirus vaccine. The biotech company Novavax announced Wednesday that it has identified an “ideal” coronavirus vaccine candidate – and is set to launch the first clinical human trial in mid-May.
  • Spectator: We need a big science approach for developing coronavirus vaccines.  Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI the vaccine alliance, writes that we need to set aside nationalistic and financial interests when tackling COVID-19. Instead, we need a global, publicly funded, ‘Big Science’ approach that encourages collaboration and the sharing of information and resources. Like the Human Genome Project, the Large Hadron Collider and other Big Science projects, this approach would allow the world to make significant advances more quickly and efficiently than could be achieved through piecemeal efforts.
  • NBC News: Plasma treatment being tested in New York may be a coronavirus ‘game changer’.  The Mount Sinai Hospital System has injected more than 20 very sick coronavirus patients with a “convalescent serum” based on the blood plasma of people who have recovered from the disease. Dr. Jeffrey Jhang, medical director of clinical laboratories and transfusion services for the Mount Sinai Health System, said: “We have so many patients who are sick. We are crossing our fingers that this will be a game changer and really accelerate the recovery of these patients.”
  • The Moscow Times: Russia ready to start testing coronavirus vaccines on humans in June. The head of a top Russian research center told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that his lab was ready to start human trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines in June. Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers.

DIAGNOSTICS

  • Bloomberg News: U.S. Labs Face Crisis After Crisis Despite Improvements in Testing . Coronavirus testing has become a massive logistical failure, one that’s made it impossible to know how much the virus has truly spread. Production of new and better test kits has increased, but the pipeline now is besieged by new hurdles. Supplies such as swabs to collect samples and chemicals to process them are running short
  • Financial Times: Swiss group says its machines can conduct 30m virus antibody tests this year . A Swiss medical diagnostics company has said it is ready to ship high-capacity machines capable of more than 30m clinically accurate coronavirus antibody tests this year. Eysins-based Quotient said its tests were ready for immediate use thanks to years of work developing a new serological screening machine, which it had intended to launch this summer. They will now be available from next week.

WHO – Daily COVID-19 update, 8 April

Statement by Dr Tedros here:

  • To ensure donations are being used where it’s needed most, the WHO set up an online portal, to help partners match needs with funds: COVID-19 contributions tracker
  • Today the UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force was laucnhed, to dramatically scale up the supply of life-saving tools, and match supply with needs. Dr Tedros thanked the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for brining all UN agencies together to contribute to the Supply Chain Task Force.
  • In the coming days, WHO will be releasing an updated strategy, and a revised Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, with an estimate of the financial needs for the next phase of the response. 

WHO: The 73rd World Health Assembly provisional agenda. The World Health Organisation released the provisional agenda for the 73rd annual World Health Assembly, notably there was no referenced to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations such as the Geneva Global Health Hub have raised concerns over a “normal” agenda and are seeking further clarification from the WHO secretariat.